Three recordings that enriched my life this past year, as if they were gifts. And, therefore, gifts I'd happily buy for any musical person on my list. Stewart Goodyear, late Beethoven piano sonatas, on the Marquis labelStewart's a friend, so if you want to say I'm praising this too much, go right ahead. But I think you'd be wrong. Stewart told me a while ago that he wanted to play all the Beethoven sonatas -- in a single day's marathon. Last summer he played them in Ottawa (he's Canadian), but over a few days.At the Ottawa cycle, … [Read more...]

Comments are back…

...I'm happy to say. I trust this means the cyberattack now lies in the past.I don't know if we'll institute some form of registration, as I suggested. That decision lies with ArtsJournal. I'll let you all know what develops.But meanwhile, comments are back. … [Read more...]

The trouble with gatekeepers

On Twitter the other day, I had a running I(and of course compressed) debate with @clusterhocket, aka Ken Thomson, a clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer from Brooklyn. The subject was gatekeepers. Or, less compressed, the established gateways to developing a performing career. They'd include performance venues who'd book you to perform, their publicists and marketers, who'd spread the word about you and do all they can to sell tickets, and of course the established media, who, if you (or your publicist, or the venue's publicist) do … [Read more...]

Warming my heart

Today there's a heartwarming piece about me in the Chicago Tribune, by their longtime classical music critic, John von Rhein. John was going to come to one of the talks I gave in Chicago on Tuesday of last week, and asked me for some background. As it happened, he couldn't come to the talk, but I'm honored by how carefully he read the package of links that I sent him, and by how seriously he takes what I say. In the end -- and this makes me happy -- his piece isn't about me. It's about where classical music needs to go. The more people talking … [Read more...]

Old debates

Seems like a couple of points often -- always? -- come up when I talk about changes -- aging, shrinkage -- in the classical music audience. Any stats about aging (and there are plenty, proving the aging of the audience, over many years, beyond much doubt) elicit a familiar response, that the population as a whole has aged, and so the aging of the classical music audience is simply something one would expect. (Some of what follows might be a little dry, for those who don't move easily in the world of numbers. Apologies for that, though of … [Read more...]

New culture

Yesterday I was running errands in my car, and listening to Soundcheck, the really fine afternoon music talk show on WNYC (the public radio station in New York). They were marking a milestone in music video -- the cancellation of the only remaining show on MTV that still showed music videos.So what was the state of music videos now? Here's what I learned. Music videos have largely migrated to YouTube. They aren't pushed to music fans by any central provider. Fans seek them out on their own. And often the best and best-known videos aren't made … [Read more...]

Generational change

Tomorrow -- Saturday, October 18 -- I'll have a review in the Wall Street Journal, about CDs I like a lot, Lukas Ligeti's "Afrikan Machinery," and a self-titled debut from Gabriel Kahane.What ties these CDs together is an intriguing back story, about the emergence of a new generation of classical musicians, with new ideas. Both the artists I reviewed have famous fathers, Ligeti's being the Ligeti we all know, and Kahane's being Jeffrey Kahane, the pianist and conductor who's music director of the Colorado Symphony. And both artists combine … [Read more...]

Bang on a Can 2008

A year ago I gushed about the annual Bang on a Can marathon, the crucial new music event in New York that had moved to a new space and attracted a new, excited -- and exciting -- audience. This year (the performance was two weekends ago) the space was the same, the Winter Garden, an extravagant, comfortable public space downtown, with ceilings high enough to accommodate full-sized palm trees. It's right on the Hudson River, in the miles-long stretch that's been developed as a walkway (and skate- and bikeway) and a park. So you'll always have … [Read more...]

More catching up

The National Performing Arts Convention -- convening in Denver next month -- has a blog. I was asked to contribute; my entry is here. Subject: why the arts -- aka the collection of interest groups meeting in Denver -- don't really represent art in our current world.***Since I got after the classical music business for ignoring Earth Day -- and, basically, all environmental concerns -- I should be fair, and note that the Ojai Music Festival has announced a green initiative. It's the first I've ever heard of in classical music, though I hope … [Read more...]

Challenge to opera

In Wong Karwai's new film, My Blueberry Nights, Rachel Weisz has a monologue that could almost be an opera aria. When I saw the film, and Weisz quiets down outside a bar where she's just thrown a fit (with Norah Jones sitting by quietly, ready to listen to anything Weisz says), I thought, "If this was an opera, now we'd get Rachel Weisz's aria." But I couldn't have known how musical Weisz's monologue would be. For one thing, she often spoke in musical phrases, with pitches - musical  notes - I could just about have written down in … [Read more...]

Molly speaks

I've been meaning to link to Molly Sheridan's new ArtsJournal blog...there, I've done it. I've known Molly for years, always enjoyed her, always learned from her. And now she's flying. I hate to limit her, by quoting something that doesn't give you her nuance or range, or her flavor, something so merely follow the link above and read the full Molly...but still here's something she knows more about than I do, something that fits right in with the conversation we've been having here about the new audience, and the blend of new … [Read more...]

The environment — solutions 2 (second in an occasional series)

Problem: You're involved with a classical music organization, maybe a big one. And even though you might describe your institution as "a vital community cultural resource" (to quote one orchestra's website), you know that once you get beyond the "cultural" part of that -- which basically means the contribution that you make to the community with your music -- you don't have all that much to offer. You sense that you're not a vital part of the community when other issues -- non-musical issues -- might arise. Solution: Do something for the … [Read more...]

Internet 101

Today I got e-mail from a major orchestra, advertising a photo exhibit. The photos sound very interesting. But none were included in the e-mail! Dumb. They had my attention. Why not do something with it? They gave me a link to click, if I wanted to read a full press release about the photo show. No photos in the press release, either. Come on, people -- don't you know how the Internet works? And yes, you'd have to make separate versions of the press release, one for print, the other for downloading. But how hard would that be? Though why not … [Read more...]

Catching up again

Here's something I'm very happy to announce: I'll be giving the commencement address at the Eastman School of Music next month. This warms my heart, because I've had a very happy time teaching at Eastman for the past three years (I teach a quick course in the future of classical music, taught in January, February, and March). And I've bonded each year with my students. But I'm also  honored to get such recognition from a major mainstream music school. And not just honored -- I'm thrilled to see my ideas taken so seriously.***If you'd like … [Read more...]

Defending Flanagan

I was dismayed at the response to Robert J. Flanagan's very long, very serious, though very academic report on orchestra finances. (Unavoidably academic, however, because Flanagan is an academic.) Could be that I'll sound impatient in what follows, for which I either apologize or not. I'm not sure. But here's the background. For many years, the Andrew W. Mellon foundation funded more than a dozen orchestras through a program designed to encourage innovation, called the Orchestra Forum. The strengths and weaknesses of that endeavor aren't … [Read more...]